The tension between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem is becoming serious and the confrontational character of the political leadership on the ground appears to be intensifying. Military solutions will solve nothing. The horrific response to the Temple Mount stand-off by an apparent lone-wolf Palestinian terrorist in the West Bank town of Halamish on Friday night was totally senseless. So too was the violent demonstration this past Friday by Palestinians to the Israeli imposition of metal detectors on the entrances to the Dome of the Rock for worshippers going to pray. The e tension had been escalating in Jerusalem and the killing two weeks ago of the Israeli policemen finally blew the top off the pressure cooker.
Sadly, to a large extent the violence itself could probably have been avoided if both sides were prepared to disregard extremist political forces who are poisoning the atmosphere. That required more effective, creative, political leadership than was forthcoming from both Netanyahu and Abbas.
Israel security forces were correct that to prevent future violence on the Temple Mount, the introduction of metal detectors was an eminently reasonable tactic. It is unclear why Bibi could not have indicated that the Israeli Government would finance the construction of the entry stops which could be manned by Palestinians. This is for the safety of Arabs, Jews, and the police. The Palestinians themselves could be supervised by a joint Israel-Palestinian team. Clearly Arabs praying at Al Aksa are equally at risk from random terrorist attacks as are the Israeli police service stationed there. There would be no challenge of sovereignty here for the Israelis and no invasion of the domain of the Waqf for the Arabs.
At the same time, there is absolutely no rationale why random Palestinians can murder Israelis in cold blood and their own authorities can view this as acceptable retaliation for Arabs killed in Jerusalem. Resolution of the settlement/occupation issue will never be resolved without both sides exhibiting leadership and courage as opposed to acquiescing to political pressure. Settlers, policemen, and Arab worshippers are need intelligent and enlightened leadership to prevent further escalation of the current confrontation into a third intifada.
Ironically, both sides also know that there will be no constructive, educated assistance to resolve this stand-off coming from Washington. Bursts of mindless ideas presented by total foreign policy novices will encourage those Arab and Israeli politicians who do not seek a resolution to the conflict. The Trump Administration is populated from the top down with such inexperienced Middle East policy makers that the only connection they understand between Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Israel, et.al. is how it might impact Trump’s desire to keep Putin happy.
When the next crisis happens with North Korea it could be amateur night now playing with nukes!